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Friday, April 22, 2005

Teaching: does it help in sales/name-recognition?

On Apr 21, 6:53am, Chris6970@aol.com wrote:
I don't know what its like in USA, but there is an almost inbred sense of smugness, even superiority among so called pro [landscape] photographers here.

It's the same problem everywhere... It's one of the more unfortunate aspects to the culture of this industry.

The people who bought some of my earlier work also commented that it would be nice to have photos of an equal quality but of more directly recognizable scenes. So I have embarked on a series of photos of all the local villages, towns, cities, within traveling distance. And lo and behold my sales are beginning to rise [consistently].

Yup -- it's a sad-but-true fact that consumers are not just attracted to the familiar, but the typical. Whenever I read statements in photo magazines about how the photographer always "runs the other way" from those locations where other photographers gather, I wince with regret that the readers are getting the wrong message. Yes, it's true that atypical shots are great, and you should strive to get them, but avoiding the typical shot is a bad business decision.

in the process of sorting out a website, I have at least 3 exhibitions planned, and am arranging to hold classes and give talks on photoshop and photography at the local college..Not that I consider myself an expert..But to "build a name".

That's well and good, and I applaud your participation in local events and especially education.... And while that may translate into some moderate short-term boost for business, don't believe too strongly in the association between the value of name recognition in the educational context, and that of the business context. There's always going to be some overlap, but the mistake many make is misinterpreting this "overlap" as "a trend."

Name-recognition among buyers is not based on how well the person is known by other photographers--it's based on how well that person is known in the buyer's world. (And photographers rarely buy photography.) That target market is really your ultimate goal, and the question is, what's the best way to penetrate that market? (For this discussion, see http://www.danheller.com/biz-marketing.html.)

The assumption that teaching will translate into name-recognition, which then translates into sales, is not that simple. Rather, one needs to gain visibility in the broader marketplace beyond just academia. Now, one can certain leverage access to that broader market using credentials from the academic realm, but they don't just work for you magically behind the scenes. You still need to employ some other marketing strategies. Sure, use the academics to bolster your image, but it won't work without those marketing tasks.

While an impressive academic resume may aid in gaining credibility among the gate-keepers who hold and defend that media/gallery domain, academia is not the highest ranking in their eyes, nor is it the easiest or most time-efficient strategy for achieving broader name-recognition status. As discussed in the above link, given the investment of time and resources, academia probably the least "efficient" way to gain notoriety. If one's background does stem from academia, however, one must assuredly exploit the networks and contacts within that particular institution as an "in" for venues and other resources that raise your status outside of academia.

To sum it up, "don't expect to teach classes and see sales jump." Unless your career objective is to teach (which is a fantastic objective), teaching should really be to be used as an "in" to a much broader marketing campaign, which still needs as much attention and fostering as before.


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